An IED explodes on a convoy in Iraq. A soldier is killed. On the other side of the world, hearts are broken as the family is notified and the tentecals of awareness reach out across the country to family and friends and friends of family and friends. Those of us who didn't know the soldier may know someone who did. The death touches our hearts and our lives. Suddenly, we realize that each tick mark on the casualty wall is someone who can touch our heart. In January, I lost a friend to an IED. This month, my friend has lost a cousin. Today, I share with you the life of Jesse Ault - may he walk with God.
Staff Sergeant Jesse Ault, 28, of Dublin, Virginia, lost his life on April 9, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered in Tunnis, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to Company E of the 429th Brigade Support Battalion, Virginia Army National Guard, Roanoke, Virginia. His unit is due home May 11.
SSG Ault was serving his second tour in Iraq. He graduated from Tyler Consolidated High School, in Middlebourne, West Virginia, in 1998. He joined the US Army and served four years with the 82nd Airborne Unit from Fort Bragg, N.C. Upon completion of his contracr, he joined the Virginia National Guard. He met his wife, Sarah Elizabeth "Betsy" Allen, while they were serving in the same unit. After his deployment to Iraq, he was discharged, but Betsy had time left to serve and was recalled for a second tour in Iraq. However, Betsy was pregnant and Jesse reenlisted to take her place.
Rachel Ault was born Jan. 17, and was greeted by her proud father, who was able to return home for the birth of his daughter. Also happy about the new addition to the family were Rachel’s two brothers — Adam, who is 15-months old, and Nathan, who is 10. Although Jesse Ault’s eldest son was not his by birth, Nathan loved his stepfather very much. “They were just like a son and father,” Jesse's father said. Jesse's life was about his family. He called home to speak to them daily.
“He lived wide open,” said Ginny, his mother, whose emotion was shared by Jesse Ault’s stepfather, Eric Billiter. “He packed a lifetime of adventures into 28 years.”
Jesse is survived by his wife, Betsy, his children Rachel, Adam and Nathan, his mother and stepfather, Virginia (Eric) Billiter of Paden City, W.Va., his father and stepmother Ronald (Debi Wise) Ault of Bethesda, Ohio, a brother, Andrew Ault of Greenbrier, Tenn.; maternal grandmother, Billie von Dran of Greer, S.C.; paternal grandfather and stepgrandmother, Roger and Phylis Ault of Cameron, Ohio; stepsisters, Adrianne Billiter of Virginia Beach, Va., Erica Billiter of Buffalo, N.Y., Crystal (David) Phillips of Bethesda; and a stepbrother, Bryan (Becky) Hull of Belmont. He is also survived by a distant cousin who is my friend.
Farewell, Young Warrior, and Walk with God
Jesse's wife released the following statement: WSLS News Staff, Published April 11, 2008
Statement from Mrs. Betsy Ault:
I am here today to tell you about Staff Sergeant Jesse Ault. Jesse was a loving and dedicated father and husband and a brave and loyal Soldier.
Jess was born in Wheeling, West Virginia and grew up in Middleburg, West Virginia, and graduated from Tyler County High School.
He and his best friend, Travis, joined the U.S. Army before they even graduated from high school. Two months after graduation, they shipped off to basic training and ended up in Fort Bragg. Travis and Jesse were always together. Travis and Jesse were like brothers. After serving four years on active duty, Jesse and Travis moved to Virginia and joined the Virginia National Guard.
I met Jesse during annual training the summer of 2002. I was in the 229th Chemical Company, and he was in the 1710th Transportation Company. We were alerted that we may be deployed. Though we did not deploy, our units trained together during the next two years.
My maiden name is Allen, and the Army does everything in alphabetical order. So, Jesse was always in line behind me. We did a lot of things together in groups. One day, while standing in line, I turned to him and said, “When are you ever going to ask me out on a date…alone?”
The units were alerted in 2004 and combined and deployed as the 1173rd Transportation Company to Camp Anaconda in Balad, Iraq. You can say that we were dating each other when were on deployment.
When Jesse met my son, Nathan, we were on a 5-day pass for Christmas. Though Jesse was quiet and shy, Nathan just crawled right up on Jesse’s lap. Jesse and Nathan became best buds then and there – it was instant.
Jesse loved Nathan, and after we returned from Iraq, he told me that he loved Nathan so much and wanted a baby of his own. We got married on the front steps of my father’s house, and not too long after that, Adam was born.
When Jesse found out he was going to have a son, he bought Jeff Gordon outfits and West Virginia gear for “his little man.”
Jesse loved all things University of West Virginia and Jeff Gordon. He cheered for the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Braves. He liked fishing and golf and loved to ride sleds down the hill with Nathan.
Jesse separated from the Guard after the deployment, but I was still serving when my unit was alerted early 2007.
Jesse loved our family so much and saw how important it was for me to stay with my sons. He joined the National Guard again to take my place on the deployment.
The day he landed in Kuwait, I found out we were pregnant. He was allowed emergency leave to come home to see the birth of our daughter, Rachel, she is 4 months old.
He called me every day when he was Iraq, even the day he died. He would always ask how his “little man” and “baby doll” were doing.
I want you to know Jesse Ault. When he was not in uniform, he was 100% family. That was what meant the most.
When he put on his uniform, he believed that he had a responsibility to his guys. He took his job seriously. He considered himself a leader and a protector.
Even when he was at home for the birth of his daughter, he worried that he wasn’t there to take care of his guys in Iraq.
The guys from Iraq called me to talk about Jesse, and I know that he meant a lot to the Soldiers and that he will be missed by everyone who knows him.
From the Wheeling News-Register:
Here in the Ohio Valley, it means something when we refer to someone as “a good man.” It is praise not conferred lightly, not given to or about those who have not proven to us that they deserve it.
Jesse Ault was a good man, to judge by what those who knew him have said about the young soldier.
War took him from us.
Ault, just 28, was serving with the Virginia National Guard in Iraq last week — when he was killed by a roadside bomb near Baghdad. He left behind his parents, a wife, a 10-year-old stepson and two younger children.
He already had served one tour of duty in Iraq. It was there that he met his wife, Betsy, who also was serving with the National Guard.
Ault was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. He was scheduled to return home on May 11.
Ault grew up in Middlebourne; his father lives in Belmont County. So, though he and his family were residing in Virginia at the time of his death, he was one of us — a good man known by many area residents.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family on the loss of a son, a husband, a father. In thanking God that such good men are willing to serve our country — to serve us all — we know we speak for others in the valley in mourning the loss of Jesse Ault.
Jesse's Guest book at Legacy can be found here: http://www.legacy.com/roanoke/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=107442076
News Articles about Jesse: